Cigarette companies can’t advertise with cartoon characters or on broadcast TV lest they lure vulnerable youths toward their products. But apparently companies that make e-cigarette liquid have until now been able to package their nicotine and tobacco wares in containers that resemble juice boxes, candy, and whipped cream. The government would like them to knock it off.
In a statement released today, the Food And Drug Administration says it’s issued 13 warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of “e-liquids”—a phrase I admittedly had not heard until today—ordering them to stop marketing their products in vessels that look like goddamn juice boxes.
“Looking at these side-to-side comparisons is alarming. It is easy to see how a child could confuse these e-liquid products for something they believe they’ve consumed before—like a juice box. These are preventable accidents that have the potential to result in serious harm or even death,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in the statement.
Some of the nicotine and tobacco products in question include liquids labeled V’Nilla Cookies & Milk, which looks like Nilla Wafers and Golden Oreos; Whip’d Strawberry, which looks like Reddi-wip cream; and Twirly Pop, which not only resembles a Unicorn Pop lollipop but includes a lollipop in its package.
Maureen K. Ohlhausen, acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, says the blatantly similar packaging could entice kids into consuming e-liquids, which could lead to nicotine poisoning. National Poison Center data show 8,269 e-cigarette and liquid nicotine exposures among children younger than six between January 2012 and April 2017. The FTC joined the FDA in sending warnings to the aforementioned companies because the agency says their packaging represents “deceptive advertising.”
So, in the off chance any impressionable children are reading The Takeout—god help us all—let’s recap: Fellow kids, don’t snort chocolate; don’t eat Tide Pods; and don’t drink mommy’s weird-tasting juice box, k?